Emma is a Founder/Director of Strategy & Blogger
Emma Loggins talks about how she started her blog FanBolt, becoming an official blogger for TV shows, creating client relationships, and much more!
• Starting FanBolt
• Blogging for the official site of The OC
• Using FanBolt as a portfolio piece in college
• Establishing friendships with clients
• Celebrate what makes you different
• Why both an organization and the individual play a part in work culture
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to do John’s anonymous survey
about Corporate Culture!
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Welcome to Episode 381 of What’s Your “And”? This is John Garrett, and each Wednesday, I interview a professional who, just like me, is known for a hobby or a passion or an interest outside of work. To put it another way, it’s encouraging people to find their “And”, those things above and beyond your technical skills, the things that actually differentiate you when you’re at work.
If you like what the show is about, be sure to check out the book on Amazon, Indigo, Barnes and Noble, Bookshop, a few other websites. All the links are at whatsyourand.com. If you want me to read the book to you, look for What’s Your “And”? on Audible or wherever you get your audio books. It’s out now.
The book goes more in depth with the research behind why these outside-of-work passions are so crucial to your corporate culture. I can’t say how much it means that everyone’s reading the book and writing such great reviews on Amazon and, more importantly, changing the cultures where they work because of it.
Please don’t forget to subscribe to the podcast so you don’t miss any of the future episodes. I love sharing such interesting stories each and every week, and this week is no different with my guest, Emma Loggins. She’s the director of Strategy and founder of Excite Creative Studios in Atlanta, and the founder and editor-in-chief of Women’s Business Daily. Now she’s with me here today. Emma, thanks so much for taking time to be with me on What’s Your “And”?
Emma: Hi. Thanks for having me. I’m excited to be here.
John: This is going to be so much fun. I’m exhausted just reading all of the things that you do, and I have a podcast, so, good for you.
Emma: Thank you.
John: That’s very impressive and really, really cool stuff that we’ll jump into. First, I have my rapid-fire questions, get to know Emma right out of the gate here. So, seat belts on, keep your hands inside the car at all times, here we go. How about a favorite color?
Emma: Emerald green.
John: Emerald green. Okay, all right. How about a least favorite color?
John: Yellow. Interesting. All right. How about a favorite Disney character?
Emma: Oh, gosh, that’s so hard. I’m going to go with my favorite Disney animated movie, Oliver from Oliver and Company.
John: Okay, all right. Nice. I haven’t heard that one before. That’s very good, very good. All right, how about a favorite actor or actress?
Emma: Favorite actor would be Viggo Mortensen. Favorite actress, oh, my goodness, that one’s really hard. We’ll go with Sandra Bullock.
John: Oh, classic. There you go. Yeah, absolutely, absolutely. Would you say more of an early bird or a night owl?
Emma: Early bird.
John: Oh, this is a tricky one, talk or text.
John: Text. The podcast is going to be really hard. We’ll get through it though. We’ll get through it. How about for puzzles, Sudoku or crossword?
John: Crossword, yeah. All right. Here we go, Star Wars or Star Trek.
Emma: Star Wars.
John: Star Wars. Yeah, me too. Me too, easily. Your computer, more of a PC or a Mac.
John: Mac. Oh, yeah, the creative side of you. There you go. I’m not even allowed in the Mac stores, I don’t think. They’re like, you wait outside. How about a favorite ice cream flavor? I’m a huge ice cream junkie.
Emma: My favorite all-time was one called Heath Bar Crunch by Ben and Jerry’s. They don’t make it anymore.
John: Oh, no.
Emma: I still talk about it daily. So good.
John: That sounds amazing.
Emma: It was.
John: Yeah, and we need to get them on that. Oh, favorite day of the week.
John: Friday. Okay. All right. How about chocolate or vanilla?
John: Chocolate. There you go. How about a favorite number?
John: 13. Is there a reason?
Emma: I’ve just always really liked it. It might be part of just the genre geek in me, like Friday the 13th or just the mystical nature that surrounds the number 13. I’ve just always been very drawn to it.
John: No, I love it. That’s awesome. How about books, audio version, Kindle or the real book?
Emma: As of lately, probably audio book.
John: Okay. All right. Yeah, because people kept asking me and I was like, wow, I didn’t know people did that so much or wanted to hear my voice. I was like, all right. It’s out now, everybody. There you go. How about a TV show you binge watch?
Emma: Oh, my gosh, I binge watched so many.
John: Right. You can do more than one if you want. You don’t have to limit it.
Emma: I’m re-binging Friends now because my husband has never seen it from beginning to end, but my favorite series I’ve ever binge watched, I’ll do two. I’ll say Lost and then Community.
John: Oh, okay. Very different but good shows.
Emma: Very different shows.
John: Yeah, yeah. Yeah, yeah. That’s awesome. Two more. Rain or snow.
John: Rain. Okay. Last one, the favorite thing you have or the favorite thing you own.
Emma: Oh, my goodness, my favorite thing that I own. You know what, for keeping it short and quick, I have a baby Yoda statue. We’ll go with baby Yoda.
John: That’s awesome. I saw it in the background as we chat on the video for this. Yeah, I was like, that’s clearly in the top five.
John: That’s very cool. Very cool. So, let’s chat blogging, especially for FanBolt. How did you get started with blogging? When I was in school, I had enough writing assignments that I didn’t want to write more. You were like, you know what, I’m taking this next level. How did that all get started?
Emma: I always was a fan of writing. I would write stories constantly when I was a kid. When I got a computer and started spending time online and exploring what it meant to have a website, I had a front page For Dummies book that I remember I had that I looked through, and I had a GeoCities website. I was in seventh grade or something. It was very early days of everyone having access essentially to the internet. It was still dial-up, but it was widely available.
I just started playing around with making sites and then writing about things that I loved on those sites. That’s really how FanBolt came to be. I started that site in 2002, after I’d made a series of TV show sites where I had written about my theories or things that had happened in various episodes or what my thoughts were on them. Then those shows would get canceled or they’d come to an end. I built up this following and put so much time and effort into the site, and now the show was done. It was like, well, this sucks.
John: Right. Right.
Emma: Yeah, so I was like, you know what, let’s just start a general kind of geek movie, TV show site where I can talk about everything. When one show ends, there are still other things to talk about that would be relevant to people. Yeah, that’s how it all came to be. I started the site in March of 2002.
John: Wow, that’s incredible, 19 years. That’s impressive.
Emma: I know. It’s an adult. That’s how I look at it. I’m like, an adult.
John: Right. Yeah. I was like, graduate high school already. That’s amazing. I’m catching the theme between the Ben and Jerry’s ice cream and the TV shows that you had websites for you. I feel like this is the last episode of the What’s Your “And”? podcast, everybody. This is the end of the road for — no, I’m just kidding.
That’s such a great idea of why not make it a bigger community and a bigger thing. Even myself, I think that something’s a big idea, and it’s like, no, there’s something bigger out there. Good for you for pushing through that a long time ago. You were way ahead. That’s really cool. Have there been some rewarding benefits from this or cool stories that have happened because of the community that you’ve built over time?
Emma: Yeah, absolutely, so many cool stories. When I started it in 2002, the message board community was really the beating heart of the site. I would blog about a number of different things, but there was a really robust community at the core of it. At its peak, I think we were just over about 200,000 members on the message board.
John: Oh, wow.
Emma: It was insane. There were so many cool stories over the years. I had a group of maybe about, we’ll say 13 because it’s my favorite number, of core members from the very beginning. It was definitely between 10 and 20 of them, and they were located all over the world. The ones that were located here in the US, if I went to New York, I would see a couple of them. We’d hang out and go to dinner. It was so much fun. I had two members that actually met on the site and got married.
John: Oh, wow.
Emma: Yeah. There’s a ton of cool community stories that were there. For me, I think the coolest thing still that happened, I was living, always have lived in Atlanta, Georgia and was running the site from Atlanta, Georgia, really before Atlanta became a big player in the film industry. Film and television wasn’t really a big thing here at that time. I was blogging about a show called The OC, and I got this email randomly one day from Warner Brothers saying, “We saw your site. We’d love for you to come and blog for our official site for the show.”
Emma: I was, what?
Emma: It was crazy to me because that was Hollywood reaching out to me, and it’s just not something I ever had planned for or a goal that I had. It just fell into my lap, and it was just the coolest opportunity. So, I blogged with them on the official OC fan club site for three years until that series ended, and really used that opportunity to network my butt off anyone that I could talk to, connect with.
I started getting opportunities to do interviews and set visits. All of it just growing really at the same time that social media was just starting to become a thing. It was a very interesting time to be in that world and get to travel and meet people that I’d looked up to and I’d idolized, get to interview them and share that on social media and then share that on the site. It was just so many, so many really cool experiences.
John: Yeah, because then you get to see the behind-the-scenes of what it’s really like on set and what actually happens when you’re there and what the people are actually like, not the characters that they’re playing on the show or whatever.
John: Yeah. Wow, that’s awesome. That’s really, really cool because you just started it as a fan of these shows. Now you’re on set and then they reach out to you. Good for you. That’s really awesome.
Emma: Thank you.
John: Yeah, if you didn’t throw yourself out there, then that never would have happened.
John: That’s really awesome. Do you feel like any of those blogging skills translated to your career, if you will, at all?
Emma: Absolutely. I had already done a couple of like freelance sites for just random businesses in the community by the time I had started FanBolt. I was going to school to get my — I got both my Bachelor’s and my Master’s degree in Computer Arts and Media, so it was a strong focus on web design and kind of bigger picture of multimedia in general, with audio and video thrown into it. I would always turn FanBolt in for my school projects just so I could — you know, two birds, one stone, it was —
John: Might as well.
Emma: Yeah, why not?
John: Right? Get new ideas from the professors. It’s like, oh, yeah, I never even thought about it. Okay.
Emma: Exactly. It was so much fun, and being able to try things out on FanBolt, looking back at the design evolution of the site and really seeing my design skills grow. So much of what I do now with Excite is building communities for people. Organizations will come to me or sites that want to have a community its core. FanBolt’s the number one portfolio piece that I have for that. Same thing with Women’s Business Daily. They’re both sites that thrive off of the community that’s built on them, and they’re both set up in a way with search engine optimization to rank highly for keywords that are relevant to that audience to bring people in organically. All of that is something that I’ve had the opportunity to learn, explore, test all of that with FanBolt.
John: That’s such a great point because you have this prototype, if you will, but it’s actually live and going. You can be a little more forgiving to yourself on that, but then when you have a client that’s actually paying you, then it’s like, well, yeah, I’ve got all these skills because I’ve been exercising that muscle, if you will, over here on FanBolt. That’s cool.
John: Is FanBolt something that comes up with clients or coworkers, throughout your career?
Emma: Absolutely. Most of the clients that I have, they’re clients, but they’re also friends. We spend a lot of time working and collaborating together. I love it being that type of relationship. It’s always something where, when you’re able to bond over something outside of just work, and you’re able to see each other as humans and not just service provider client, I think it really enriches the overall relationship and the kind of working culture between you and someone. I always point out that I brand myself as the geek girl. I’m very passionate about geek culture. If you have any questions about Marvel or Star Wars, I’m your girl.
John: Right. That’s awesome.
Emma: Yeah. It’s been a huge, I think, just relationship-building tool, having that site and being able to say — because everyone geeks out over something. Whether it’s Star Wars or cooking or travel or whatever it is, there’s something that every single person on this planet is a geek about. It’s this one kind of beautiful thing that can bring people together.
John: It’s so true. Yeah, it’s all under one umbrella. It’s like, well, what do you geek out on? That’s basically what What’s Your “And”? is, is what do you geek out on?
John: For different people, it’s different things, but when they talk about that thing, they just light up. Their eyes get big. The tone in their voice is different. You can’t shut them up. It’s just non — and so it’s cool to have that energy between you and a client. It’s cool to have that energy in the office. If someone works in that kind of a setting, then why not have that energy and that kind of tone to that relationship? You’re around them a lot of times, a lot of hours.
John: I love that. Yeah. Maybe this is the geek out podcast now.
Emma: There you go.
John: What do you geek out on? That’s my second book. No. One’s enough. One’s enough. I guess one thing that, just to circle back on quickly, was you said how it just creates a better relationship with your clients. I guess, just, in what way? Just for people that are out there that are like, that’s way too off the reservation for me. I only talk about work and no work. Maybe if you could describe, rather than me telling them, it’s better in your words of, how does that relationship different or benefit from knowing?
Emma: It’s hard to describe. I definitely think has made the — when a client is trying to decide what web designer they’re going to go with or what agency they want to go with, they see me in a different light. I’m able to use that to separate me from the others. I’m not this corporate buttoned up girl. I’m wearing jeans and a Marvel t-shirt, and I’m going to knock out your website and have fun doing it. I love what I do. I think showing people how passionate I get about geek culture, and technology is a huge part of that. I love building things. I love designing things. Seeing that passion in me for what I do, I think just puts me in a different context in their mind. I think that’s one of the big ways that it sets it apart.
I also like to know that too, just about my clients, because I feel like that personal connection, knowing what makes someone tick, it’s going the extra mile to get to know someone and meet someone where they are and not just, I’m here to do a job, let me get it done. Yes, I’m going to do the job, but I also want to know who you are as a person, what makes you tick, and how does that influence your business and what you do?
John: Yeah, and you could do it much better because you actually — they come to you asking for something, and you’re like, well, what if this? Because after getting to know you, this is a huge part of who you are as a person or who your business is, you’re completely leaving this off the page. What if we did that? They see it. What? That’s awesome. So, you’re able to provide better service.
Emma: Absolutely. I think every business or every service provider out there is looking for ways to set themselves apart from their competition. By celebrating what makes you different and shining a light on that, I think is a really great way to do it.
John: Totally. It’s your differentiator. Why would you not put that top of the page? It’s so funny. We want to hide the one thing that differentiates us. Let’s maybe not even put it on the resume, or let’s not even put it on the website. Let’s not even put it on the About Us page or at the very bottom in super small font. It’s, no, no. That’s the only thing that makes you different. Everyone else is doing the exact same —
John: So, that’s super cool that you lean into that, and that you encourage your clients to, as well. Because it creates that safe space where, hey, Emma just showed up in that Marvel t-shirt. I’ve got one. I’m going to wear it to the next meeting, type of thing. All of a sudden, now we get real people showing up to meetings instead of automatons.
Emma: Exactly, exactly.
John: How much do you feel like, for an organization, and maybe ones that you’ve dealt with because in your case, it’s different, but how much is it on the organization to create that culture where it’s okay for people to share their “and”? Versus, how much is it on the individual to maybe just create that little small circle or be the change that they want to see in the world type of thing?
Emma: I think it’s up to both parties. I think that a company needs to create a safe space in which employees feel comfortable doing that and expressing themselves and celebrating what makes them them, but individuals also need to feel comfortable in doing that as well and putting that out there, putting themselves out there and trying to build those relationships and celebrate what makes everyone different, but also celebrate things that we have in common.
That was really, when I first started FanBolt, obviously, as I said earlier, it was to celebrate fandom, but I also had a very quintessential high school experience where I was bullied. I didn’t have a safe space to celebrate what I loved because I was made fun of for it. So, in starting FanBolt, it was such a passion of mine to create a safe haven where people could come and celebrate the things they love or the things that they didn’t have anyone else to celebrate with.
That’s the really amazing thing about geek culture. You can be 70 or seven. You can be any nationality, any gender. It doesn’t matter who you are, what you look like. We can all be a fan of the same thing. Star Wars fans look like everyone. Right?
John: Right. Right.
Emma: Disney fans look like everyone. Every single show or movie or piece of media property has a fandom behind it. You get to see different types of people come together, forget their differences and celebrate something they love and still be different. It’s such an interesting concept to me, and I love it. That’s what I love so much about fandom is the safe space that it creates for people to celebrate who they are.
John: I love that so much. On a slightly shallower level is what I feel like the What’s Your “And”? concept is, is professionals are, maybe bullied is too strong of a word for it, but they’re gently persuaded to behave a certain way and act a certain way. If you even have a hobby or an interest outside of work, I don’t know what you do, but even if you have it, don’t talk about it, that sort of mentality. So, creating that community where it’s like, no, no, this is normal. You’re not the only one. There’s all of us out here. I love the power behind that. That’s so cool to hear, what you’ve been able to do on a much, much bigger level, which is really cool.
Emma: Thank you.
John: Yeah. No, that’s awesome. Do you have any words of encouragement to anyone listening that maybe feels like, I’ve got a hobby, or I’ve got a thing that I geek out on that no one’s going to care about, or it has nothing to do with my job?
Emma: I’d celebrate it. Celebrate what fuels you. At the end of the day, we don’t live to work. We work to live. We want to be able to celebrate the things that make us happy. It’s amazing when you can tie those things together. You truly love your work. That’s fantastic, but your hobbies are something that brings such joy to you. You shouldn’t put them on the back burner. You shouldn’t put them last. They need to be a priority to you because that’s what fuels you and motivates you to keep going and be happy. There’s enough sadness in the world already. Be happy. Do what makes you happy.
John: Right? Totally, and that energy you can then bring to work. Unfortunately, one doesn’t always pay the mortgage where the job does, but that enthusiasm and fuel, as you use the word for, is bring that fuel to work and have that joy there. I love that. That’s super awesome.
Well, before I wrap this up, it’s only fair, since I rapid-fire questioned you right out of the gate, that we turn the tables. This is the first episode of the Emma Loggins podcast. Thanks for having me on. I appreciate you booking me. Actually, I booked myself but anyway, I’m all yours.
Emma: Let’s see. Let’s start with favorite movie.
John: Favorite movie. All right, I’ve got a couple. There’s going to be Rudy because Notre Dame football. That’s what I geek out on. Dumb and Dumber is always good, no matter. You can start the movie at any point, and there’s going to be laughter. Probably Good Will Hunting is a really good one too. So, probably those three.
Emma: On that note, Ben Affleck or Matt Damon?
John: Oh, you know in that movie, I love Ben Affleck’s character so much. When he goes into the meeting with his white tube socks, and he’s negotiating this contract with — he’s just like, that’s not good enough. We’re out of here, whatever. It’s so funny to me. That movie is just, it’s so deep, and the characters in it are really rich. Robin Williams’ character, man, it just… It’s a good movie.
Emma: It is. It is. Favorite superhero.
John: Favorite superhero. Well, I don’t know. Iron Man’s always cool. I don’t know if that counts.
Emma: That counts. He’s a superhero.
John: That’s a good one. I’m also a big fan of Spider-Man who’s super — if you ran into Peter Parker on the street, there’s no way that dude’s a superhero. It’s always at night, and he’s not getting all the attention. It’s just like, I just do what I do. No one’s needs to know about it. Superman always is seen. No one sees Spider-Man. It’s just all in in the night. So, those two, I would say.
Emma: Spider-Man is a great choice, but Iron Man is just really cool. You could have so much fun playing with all the technology that he has.
John: Yeah, exactly. That’s the part of it. Spider-Man with the technology, I would be in heaven right there.
Emma: I know you said earlier that you are a Star Wars guy, not a Star Trek guy, so, favorite Star Wars character.
John: Favorite Star Wars character. When I was younger, the Ewoks were like the bomb, just the bomb. They were hilarious, but they could kick ass at the same time. That was always fun. Yeah, I don’t know. I guess I’ll go Ewoks just because it’s such a random answer.
Emma: The Ewok’s a good answer.
John: Also, I’m just really big fan of the original three. I have yet to venture off the reservation much because I haven’t heard great things, necessarily, so I don’t want to ruin it. Yeah, that’s why I’m still on the old school original.
Emma: I will say that The Mandalorian is fantastic.
John: Oh, yeah, that’s the new show. Disney Plus, right?
Emma: Yeah, yeah. It’s not just because of baby Yoda, but baby Yoda is a huge part of it.
Emma: But it’s really well-constructed. They did such a fantastic job with the story arc, and now that Disney owns it, it’s really cool to see how everything is coming together from all of their different properties, from Clone Wars, the original films, Mandalorian, all of these things, how they fit together in this giant Star Wars universe. I geek out over it. It’s really cool.
John: That’s awesome. No, that’s cool. Finally, someone’s bringing it together.
Emma: Yes. Disney owns all of us, but it’s cool to see what they’re doing.
John: Right. Exactly, exactly. Do something with this. This has been so much fun, Emma. I really appreciate you being a part of What’s Your “And”? Congrats on all your success and, yeah, I just look forward to staying in touch. Thanks for being a part of this.
Emma: Yeah, absolutely. Thanks for having me.
John: Totally. Everyone, if you want to see some pictures of Emma or connect with her on social media or get the link to FanBolt.com, be sure to go to whatsyourand.com. All the links are there. While you’re on the page, please click that big button, do the anonymous research survey about corporate culture, and don’t forget to check out the book.
Thanks again for subscribing on iTunes or whatever app you use and for sharing this with your friends so they get the message that we’re all trying to spread, that who you are is so much more than what you do.
Brittany is an Accountant & Blogger & Organ Donor Advocate
Brittany Elliser talks about her passion for romance novels and how she started a blog to not only express her passion but to better herself in the workplace! She also talks about her experience with her son’s liver transplant and becoming an organ donor advocate!
• Getting into romance novels
• How her blogging helps with her career
• Talking about her blog at work
• Becoming an organ donor advocate
• How an organization and an individual can both shape workplace culture
Please take 2 minutes
to do John’s anonymous survey
about Corporate Culture!
Brittany with some of her favourite books by her favourite authors!
(click to enlarge)
- Read Full TranscriptOpen or Close
Welcome to Episode 303 of What’s Your “And”? This is John Garrett, and each Wednesday, I interview a professional who, just like me, is known for a hobby or a passion or an interest outside of work. To put it another way, it’s encouraging people to find their “And”, those things above and beyond your technical skills, the things that actually differentiates you when you’re at work.
I’m so excited to let everyone know that my book is being published in September. It’ll be available on Amazon, Indigo, Bookshop and a few other websites, so check out whatsyourand.com for all the details. I know their pre-orders will be available very soon. I can’t say how much it means that everyone’s listening to the show and changing the cultures where they work because of it, and the book will really help to spread this message.
Please don’t forget to hit subscribe to the podcast so you don’t miss any of the future episodes. I love sharing such interesting stories each and every week, and this week is no different with my guest, Brittany Elliser. She’s a senior tax manager with KPMG in the Baton Rouge office, and now she’s with me here today. Brittany, thanks so much for taking time to be with me on What’s Your “And”?
Brittany: Yes, I am super excited.
John: This is going to be awesome. We met playing The Six Foot Game Show with Tax Forward, and the KPMG team was so much fun. I’m so glad that you were willing to come and be a part of this.
Brittany: I think you meant to say where we dominated.
John: You did dominate. You did dominate up until the final floor and then it was a close one. It was so close. You guys were so much fun that we had to bring you back again to do an exhibition game just because, man, what a crazy team. You guys were a blast, for real. I have 17 rapid-fire questions for you, and they’re probably questions I should have asked while we were playing the game but didn’t. So, here we go. Here’s an easy one, favorite color.
John: Oh, okay. How about a least favorite color?
John: There you go. I guess they’re pretty much opposites. What’s a typical breakfast?
Brittany: Breakfast tacos.
John: Oh, nice. Good answer. How about a favorite actor or actress?
Brittany: Leonardo DiCaprio will have my heart forever and always.
John: I’m guessing Titanic or was it —
Brittany: Old school Leo, Growing Pains.
John: Oh, Growing Pains, that cameo. Okay.
John: All right.
Brittany: You should see him regular towards the end.
John: Yeah, Kirk Cameron’s got nothing. I’m at the side guy. All right, all right. How about pens or pencils?
Brittany: Pens, very specifically, 0.5, Uni-Ball.
John: Oh, nice. All right, I like that. How about puzzles, Sudoku or crossword?
Brittany: Oh, either, yeah, both.
John: Okay, at the same time, your right and left hand just going nuts.
Brittany: I’m getting bored. I think I’m going to put down the other. I have stacks of them, literally.
John: Wow. Okay, okay. How about are you more of an early bird or a night owl?
Brittany: Night owl.
John: Night owl, okay. I guess living in Baton Rouge, I think it’s a requirement.
John: Right? Okay, how about Star Wars or Star Trek?
Brittany: Oh, neither.
John: Neither. Okay, okay. That works. Your computer, a PC or a Mac.
Brittany: I enjoy a Mac better, but I only own a PC.
John: Okay, maybe that’s something we’ll talk about later.
Brittany: Yeah. I used to have one and then work-life calls, and they’re not too compatible.
John: Exactly. I’m not even cool enough to even go into the Mac store, so you’re way ahead of me. How about a favorite ice cream flavor?
Brittany: Baskin-Robbins chocolate only.
John: Oh, okay, all right. Straight up chocolate, there you go, and Baskin-Robbins especially.
John: Okay, all right. How about a favorite band or musician?
Brittany: Incubus or 311. Don’t let me pick.
John: Going old school, no, that works. They’re going to go on tour together.
Brittany: They’ve always gone on tour together, pretty much.
John: There you go. Then it’s perfect. It’s called the Brittany Elliser Tour.
John: Why is everyone leaving halfway through? That’s hilarious. How about when it comes to taxes, corporate or individual?
Brittany: Neither. Nonprofit.
John: Nonprofit, okay, okay. How about cats or dogs?
John: Cats, interesting. All right, we’ve got four more, four more. Do you have a favorite number?
John: Is there a reason?
Brittany: It was my basketball number, growing up, for a long time, and I think it’s just a perfect middle number.
John: No, it’s a great number. How about heels or flats?
Brittany: Oh, flats, probably.
John: You’re like, shoes at home? Why are we —
Brittany: Yeah, remember I left, I said, at the office, from…
John: You did.
Brittany: I did.
John: That was the question in the game show.
Brittany: I was trying to say neither, but —
John: Name something you’ve left at the office, and you said, “My shoes.”
Brittany: Yeah, I’m known for walking around barefoot.
John: That was so funny. All right, two more. Do you have a favorite adult beverage?
Brittany: I am a beer connoisseur, self-proclaimed, so, either that or my seasonal drinks. I enjoy a seasonal beverage. I have a winter drink. I have a summer drink. I have a fall drink.
John: Okay. What’s your summer drink, since it’s summer?
Brittany: It’s like a boat drink. It’s very tropical, pineapple, vodka, that kind of thing.
John: Yeah, that sounds like something I would drink. That’s great. All right, and the last one, the favorite thing you have or the favorite thing you own.
Brittany: Oh, it sounds weird to say my kids, but I have my kids. They’re my favorite.
John: That’s fine.
Brittany: That works.
John: You have kids. You have your kids.
John: That’s why I rephrase the question just in case people want to use family or something like that, that you obviously don’t own, and they will let you know that. It’s more the other way around probably.
John: Pretty much got you. So, yeah, let’s talk romance novels and then next level, blogging about it. How did you get started with that?
Brittany: It all started because I wanted to, this sounds cheesy, increase my, or perfect my writing. When I’m doing nonprofit taxes, it’s a lot of narratives and a lot of paragraphs that we have to write. So, I was like, I’m going to become a better writer. When I looked into it, I always love to read and I always love to read romance novels, I found this whole world of blogging about it. So, I told myself that I was going to start a blog on writing reviews of romance novels, and that’s how I got into it.
John: That’s fantastic. That’s great. You actually started the hobby in order to get better at what you do at work.
John: You reverse engineered my whole message.
Brittany: It’s weird because I’ve always been told I was a good writer, but when you get to writing different — not satires or not things for grades, it’s a different kind of writing, and not that reviews are what I write on a tax return, but just getting into it every day and having to structure paragraphs and write your thoughts down, I think is where it was really interesting to me.
John: No, that’s fantastic because it is a muscle that you need to exercise. The more you do, then the better you get at it, and then you can apply that skill in different ways. Although it would be fantastic if you did a review of the people that you were doing the tax return for, in the same way that you do the book characters. That’s so funny. That’s fantastic. So, romance novels were something that you’ve been into for even longer?
Brittany: Yeah. My grandmother was a librarian. My mom always had her books hidden in the little book cover sleeves. So I’ve had romance novels around me my entire life. I probably picked them up sooner than I should have, given the fact that I was reading them, probably, my mom not knowing that I was reading them. I’ve just always liked them. Now it’s just kind of a funny thing between all of our friends. Oh, Brittany’s reading her romance novels again.
John: Yeah, but they’re over there watching soap operas, so, whatever.
Brittany: Yeah, it’s the same thing.
John: Exactly, except for you’re a reader. There’s that.
Brittany: Yeah. I have always liked to read. It just became more and more — I just like romance, so I’m just going to read that.
John: Yeah, why not? That’s great. That’s really fantastic. Do you have a favorite author or one of your favorite books?
Brittany: Yes. I was obsessed with Karina Halle. That was my first author where I really dove into the whole book blogging world was really because of her. Now, I have so many. I couldn’t even name them all. There are so many. I’m lucky that I actually get to beta read for a lot of them now and work with them, so it’s pretty cool.
John: Yeah, because you’ve read a lot of them, and you can critique them. What’s the name of your blog, for everybody listening?
Brittany: It is called “The Book Boutique: Where Reading Is Always In Style.”
John: Right. You have a tagline. That’s so good. Are you sure you’re in tax? It’s way too creative.
Brittany: I’m too much of a creative person to be stuck doing taxes but, you know.
John: Just as long as you don’t use that creativity to do taxes, you’re fine.
Brittany: Yeah. No, no.
John: How cool is that? Well, I have a link at whatsyourand.com as well. People can go there and get the link from the show page. That’s super cool that people are actually sending you, hey, here’s a book, what do you think, type of a thing. That’s awesome. I should have sent my book to you. You should have been like, it needs a little more romance.
Brittany: Don’t worry.
John: Well, thank you. Yeah, it needs a new cover, a little more wind rolling on an ocean scene or something. I don’t know why I think that that’s the thing. I’ve seen one romance novel cover apparently.
Brittany: They’re all in my house, so I can give you lots of example.
John: I’ve got romance books. I’ve got Sudoku puzzles. I’ve got crossword puzzles. I don’t know, my kids are somewhere around here. My shoes, forget about it.
John: I think that’s so fantastic that you actually started it specifically to help your skills for work. Do you feel like you’ve gotten better?
Brittany: If you ask my boss, I would say she’s happy. I do think it’s helped me be more organized when I sit down to write a memo or something like that, so I do think it has helped really narrow down what I want to get out at the end of the day. It’s, like you said, practice makes perfect, and so I think it definitely has helped.
John: Yeah, and it’s something that you have talked about at work because, like you said, everybody knows. How did that come up? Because a lot of people that I talk with, and I was a little bit the same way, it’s like, well, am I supposed to share this or not, type of a thing. Is it something that ever crossed your mind?
Brittany: I kept it a secret for a while. They knew that I had a blog, but nobody really knew what I was blogging about. Like my boss, I had my most inline boss person, she knew that I was starting a blog kind of thing. She was like, oh, yeah, that’s fun. Then somebody somewhere said something about romance novels, and I was like, “Oh, yeah, that’s what my blog is about,” and there was this whole, boom! Everybody’s like, what do you do? What do you do? What do you do? I was like, oh, my gosh, what did I open? Now, it’s just a known fact that when we travel for work and I’m on the plane, it’s like, don’t talk to me, I’m reading, please leave me alone.
John: It’s like, I’ve got a beta book that I’ve got to read here who needs my feedback. That’s awesome because I’ve never come across, in my life, another romance blogger. Then just Episode 301 was Jeannie Ruesch who writes romance books. It’s like, all of a sudden, my world —
Brittany: Romance is everywhere. It’s in the air.
John: Exactly, it is in the air. It’s gross August, why not? Do you find that it almost draws more people in because it is so unique and it’s not golf or something that’s pretty common?
Brittany: It’s definitely a conversation-starter. I will say that the romance community is humongous on Instagram. I feel like it’s huge because all of my friends — I’ve actually met my co-blogger through Instagram. We combined our blogs together. I think it’s this whole crazy community that’s humongous but then when I step back from it, I’m like, oh, a lot of people actually don’t know about it. So, it’s definitely an interesting conversation-starter, for sure.
John: Yeah, and even in the professional setting, why not? It’s not illegal.
John: Did it ever cross your mind, like, hey, I’m worried people might judge me or something?
Brittany: Yeah, I would say so. There’s definitely a stigma, if you ask any romance reader. We’re the smutty readers. We’re reading smutty books and things like that, and they have no substance to it. Actually, there’s a lot to it. A lot of the stories are actually very deep characters, deep connections and things like that. So, to me, proving them wrong is almost sort of fun because I’m like, well, you should check out this book because you will be very surprised.
John: Yeah, because it’s people like me that have seen one cover, and it’s like, whatever, some shirtless guy with long hair, and it’s blowing. It’s like, I don’t know, like a shampoo commercial or something. I don’t know. It’s clearly not normal. That’s for sure. That’s awesome. That’s really cool. Have you come across, through work, other romance novel fans?
Brittany: I heard that there was a person in the Houston office that used to write romance novels, and I’m pretty sure I’ve read her books.
Brittany: Yeah. I tried reaching out, but it never worked out. I was like, okay, I’m just going to drop it, in case it’s not her, but I tried two to three times.
John: Right. I guess if it’s not her, that would be weird if you keep ringing her. Maybe she’ll listen to the podcast, and we’ll see what we can do.
Brittany: Yeah. Now everybody’s like, Britney, you send me a rec. Brittney, you send me this. Now, it’s just known, go to Brittany, she can give you tons of books. I’m like, okay, sure.
John: See? Clearly, people are coming to you and asking for advice. That’s so cool because that’s a really fantastic byproduct of having this outside-of-work passion. Clearly, the work skill set was the reason you did it, but then to actually create stronger connections is pretty fantastic to hear.
Brittany: For sure.
John: That’s very cool. Before that, was there something else that you would share at work, or have you been just riding that train for a while?
Brittany: The only other thing I’m known for is being passionate about organ donation. That’s about it.
John: Which I’d love to talk about because your son — I mean, can you share a little bit more about that?
Brittany: Yeah. My son was born with a rare liver disease that we had no idea was going to come, and he ended up needing a transplant, a liver transplant at five months old, and that subsequently turned into two additional liver transplants afterwards. He’s coming up on his five-year anniversary. July 17th is the date of his last transplant. It’s just something that, I found, helps me make connections. I’m always open to talk about it. If I’m not talking about liver transplants or organ transplants or educating the population about organ donation, I’m talking about romance novels. So, those are my top two, I would say.
John: That’s awesome. If we could just get a romance novel about somebody that donates an organ.
Brittany: They have them actually.
John: Really? That’s so good, and they both love Incubus and 311. It’s just like, what is happening? You should write your own. We just wrote a book for you right now. We just did it. See how easy it is to write a book? No, it’s crazy hard. But that’s so powerful to hear. Three organ transplants in five years or less is insane. That’s impressive. He is way tougher than I could ever even act like I am. That’s impressive.
Brittany: He’s our no limits soldier, for sure. That’s what we call him.
John: Nice. I love that, so cool, and it’s so great that you’re out there advocating for that and an example of, here’s what the benefits are from this and how it affects someone in a family even, which is awesome. That’s really cool, really cool to hear. I guess one thing that I sit around and stew on a lot because I got time is how much is it on an organization to create a culture where people feel free to share these outside-of-work hobbies and passions? Or how much is it on the individual, if they’re not in a place like that, to just create a little circle amongst themselves?
Brittany: I think it’s a mixture, although where I work is very — it’s all about, what can we bring to the table? I think the more diverse an office is, the better results you’re going to get, honestly. I definitely think everyone in our office — I mean, we are Baton Rouge, Louisiana. We are one of the smaller offices of the whole country, but I think we have a very good diverse group, and that, I think, we all bring that to the table. There’s not one of us who doesn’t know what’s not going on in someone else’s life and what they’re passionate about. It’s pretty cool because we get big office culture with little office feels.
John: Yeah, and that’s awesome. I think that diverse, it’s not just race and gender, it’s other things as well of who you are as a person. That’s awesome. That’s so cool to hear that you have that there.
Brittany: We have a professional water skier, the number one women’s professional water skier in our office.
John: What? That is so cool.
Brittany: Yeah, because she was on the cover of our homepage for a while and stuff. She’s pretty awesome.
John: If you’re a professional water skier, done and done, or a romance novel blogger, also equally cool. I love it. I just think it’s so fantastic. When I heard it, I was like, that is so unique and so cool. Especially, you own it. You’re like, yeah, that’s what I do. What do you want to talk about? You need some tips? What kind of book do you want? Historical? What do you want? In the future? That’s super cool. Is there anything specific that your office does to encourage this? Or is it just because you feel like maybe it’s a smaller office, so the dynamics are just there?
Brittany: I think we’re really big on, I hate saying it, but work-life balance. I hate that term, but they really are very big on finding your passion and then doing what makes you happy at the end of the day and giving us time to figure out what we are passionate about and then actually giving us the time to do it.
John: That’s fantastic. That’s refreshing to hear because in my research, let’s say, 8% of people, that passion is work.
John: But for 92% of us, it is not work, and that’s totally okay. Both sides, totally okay. Just because you’re good at what you do and you’re good at tax, especially for nonprofits, I just found out earlier, but that doesn’t mean that that’s what lights you up. If there are other things that do, then that’s really cool to hear that they let you do the other things as well.
Brittany: I think going through everything with my son allowed that to really flourish. It was a big eye-opening for me of what makes me happy at the end of the day, so I think that built into it a little bit, too, honestly.
John: Yeah, that’s super powerful because when everything’s good, whatever, you don’t really think about stuff, and then all of a sudden, yeah, when things get a little bit different then it’s like, ooh, man, yeah, this is what’s actually important to me.
John: That’s cool. Do you have any words of encouragement to anyone listening that might think that they have a hobby or a passion that has nothing to do with their job?
Brittany: I would say, let your freak flag fly.
John: There you go. There you go.
Brittany: Do what makes you happy. Stay weird.
John: There you go. I need to change the title of my book. Dang it. Everyone would be angry. They’re like, “That’s not what the book’s about. I bought this book because of the cover.” No, but that’s exactly it is — actually the last title of the last chapter is Make Professionalism Weird.
John: For real. Because what you bring to the table is unique and different than everyone else with that Accounting degree or whatever degree people have.
Brittany: I think they all say it. We’re all like, “Well, we’re all a little bit weird.” So, I’m like, “So own it.” Yeah, I’m weird.
John: Exactly. The cool thing is that when everyone’s weird, then all of a sudden, we’re all weird together. It’s like the Land of Misfit Toys or something where it’s, all of a sudden, the cool place, type of thing. So, Brittany, this was so much fun. Before I let you go, since I rudely started out the show, peppering you with questions, it’s only fair that I allow you to now be the host of the show. You can now rapid-fire question me, so, whatever you’ve got.
Brittany: Did you download Tiktok in quarantine?
John: I didn’t, but I have watched some. I have a friend who has warned me that it’s a rabbit hole that you will never come out of. I didn’t want to go down it because I probably would have missed talking to you because I would have been just watching the next Tiktok, but, yeah, I did not.
Brittany: What’s your favorite book?
John: My favorite book.
Brittany: Yeah, any genre, any anything.
John: Yeah, so my favorite book is called “The War of Art.” It’s a play on The Art of War. It’s The War of Art by Steven Pressfield, and it’s for creatives. It just talks about, every day is this constant inner critic that tries to trip you up from creating something great. It tries to sidetrack you to go down other paths that don’t matter. It’s so good. Yeah, I really like that book, The War of Art. It’s fantastic. It’s not very romantical, if that’s even a word. I don’t even know.
John: It’s not a lot of romance. Absolutely. Well, this has been so much fun, Brittany. Thanks so much for taking time to be with me on What’s Your “And”?
Brittany: No problem. Glad I can join. It was super fun.
John: Absolutely, and everybody listening, if you want to see some pictures of Brittany outside of work or maybe connect with her on social media or get a link to her blog, be sure to go to whatsyourand.com. All the links are there, and while you’re on the page, please click that big button, do the anonymous research survey about corporate culture.
Thanks again for subscribing on iTunes or whatever app you use and for sharing this with your friends so they get the message that we’re all trying to spread that who you are is so much more than what you do.